Re-reading: The Cricket Term
Even though I've read The Cricket Term so many times before, I was forcibly struck this time by the degree to which this novel is about luck. There are many references to superstitions, rituals, and bargains with the gods. Stuff Happens, for no apparent reason, and with no apparent bearing on the overall plot: Nicola hurts her hand, but it doesn't stop her playing in the all-important final match; the person who dies has been off-screen for the whole book, and we readers have forgotten about them such as much as the characters have. Ginty relies on her lucky clover for success in the Diving Cup, but it doesn't work. Nicola's team seem to have lucky breaks in the cricket matches -- flukey catches, unlikely run-outs -- but in fact, luck is with them because Nicola has trained them relentlessly to fly for every chance. And the final awarding of the scholarship is similarly flukey and surprising, the winners and losers unexpected yet somehow right.
And there is a striking contrast drawn between Nicola's hard-won stoicism, which enables her to handle her troubles and disappointments with grace and dignity, and the reactions of her arch-enemy, Games Captain Lois Sanger, whose self-deceiving, fundamentally dishonest approach to life leaves her ill-equipped to face the future that awaits her after school, as she steps out of the pages of this book and the series. It's a subtle lesson, but a valuable one.
I'm considering making this pleasurable re-read an annual event -- a treat for August, perhaps, which is always such a hectic, stressful month. Something to look forward to!